William Shakespeare penned the most well-known line in drama and literature in his 1603 play, Hamlet:
To foot platform or not to foot platform: that is the question....|
Of course, Hamlet's real musing
is about the pain of life and the uncertainty of death: To be or not to be.... However, I'm sure that
if Hamlet was a powerchair user, he'd also have a profound soliloquy weighing the merits of foot platforms
versus conventional legrests.
In recent years, foot platforms - a flip-up footplate that's
center-mounted to the powerchair base or seating system - have moved from almost exclusive use on light
rehab powerchairs, to use on high-end rehab powerchairs, as well, including tilt and elevating systems.
However, the question remains, why would one choose a foot platform over conventional legrests?
The answer is found within form and function, where the compactness and durability of a center-mount
powerchair foot platform lends itself toward environmental and positioning practicalities not found with
The initial advantage of a center-mount foot platform is within its intrinsic
definition - that is, it mounts at the center of the powerchair. While conventional legrests mount along
each outside edge of powerchair seating, a foot platform mounts at the center of the base or seat, eliminating
any obtrusive side mounting brackets and legrest tubes that may cause unwanted contact points or inhibit
For transfers, a center-mount foot platform flips up against the front of the powerbase,
void of components that swing sideways. When transferring amongst a bed or commode, a flip-up foot platform
eliminates the need to remove a conventional legrest on the transfer side, facilitating easier, less
cumbersome transfers. Further, because a center-mount foot platform eliminates all side mounting hardware,
many transfers allow the foot platform to remain in its down position, requiring no swing-away or flip-up
Toward positioning, a center-mount footplate allows one's feet to sit side-by-side,
void of an in-between gap that's typically dictated by conventional legrests. This positioning ability
proves meaningful for those wishing to have their legs close together for aesthetic reasons, as with
when wearing shorts or dresses, and gives a "sleeker look" to one's posture.
In everyday use,
center-mount foot platforms prove historically less cumbersome and more durable than conventional legrests.
With a center-mount foot platform tucked well within the sides of a powerchair, it's less likely to
snag on doorways and other obstacles, increasing a powerchair's overall compactness, and because a center-mount
foot platform anchors to a substantial mount, and doesn't extend as a tubular-type leverage arm that
may bend upon impacts as with conventional legrests, it's more durable when accidentally bumped during
A center-mount foot platform, however, isn't for everyone. If one needs to perform
standing pivot transfers, but can't lift one's legs to flip up the center-mount foot platform, conventional
swing-away legrests prove easier for transfers. Also, while there are elevating foot platforms, they
elevate one's legs together, so if one requires independent left and right leg elevation, conventional
elevating legrests are needed.
For varied applications, center-mount foot platforms are available
in a range of configurations. For standard seating, a foot platform mounts from the powerchair base,
itself, usually offering notable height adjustment, as well as some depth adjustment to allow a range
of leg angles. For power seating, including tilt and elevation, a foot platform mounts to the front
of the seat, with a bracket behind one's legs, allowing the foot platform to move with the seat during
powered functions. Further, center-mount foot platforms are available in multiple sizes - though some
are limited in size based on front caster clearance - and offer such advanced positioning options as
calf pads and split angle adjustability, where each foot can be positioned independently.
the question of whether to use a foot platform isn't as profound as Hamlet's soliloquy pondering the
pain of life and the uncertainty of death; however, such a consideration could improve your powerchair's
comfort and functionality.
Published 2/07, Copyright 2007, WheelchairJunkie.com